The Green Party elected Jana Drápalova party leader at a two-day conference in Brno over the weekend.Ms.Drapalova was elected by 115 out of 198 votes. The party has been without a proper leader since Ondřej Liška resigned as its head in June of last year following the Greens poor showing in elections to the European Parliament, where they won a mere 3.7 percent of the votes. The Green Party participated in the centre-right coalition government between 2007 and 2009, but their influence on Czech politics has been marginal since and they failed to win a single seat in the lower house in the last general election.
Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová has moved to dispel public concern with regard to the possible re-introduction of paper coupons in the city’s public transport. The mayor said that all present holders of Opencard could rest assured that nothing would change for them and that if Prague City Hall were to re-introduce paper coupons for a certain period, as a last resort, it would only be for new clients. City Hall only has licensing rights to issue another 60,000 Opencards after which it would be forced to resort to paper coupons. According to Prague City Hall the 60,000 Opencards should last until mid-summer by which time the leadership hopes to have found a solution to the drawn-out dispute over rights with the company eMoneyServices.
Over 500 foreign guests, including 30 heads of parliament, diplomats and cultural figures are expected to take part in next week’s commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the end of World War II. The events include an international forum on anti-Semitism and extremism to be held at Prague Castle on Monday and a tribute to Holocaust victims in Terezin, north Bohemia on Tuesday. Extensive security measures involving hundreds of police will be in place at both venues.
A referendum on a blanket ban on gambling in the city of Zlín has been declared invalid due to a low turnout. Only 11.7 of the city’s inhabitants came to cast their vote with the vast majority of them supporting the ban. A thirty-five percent turn-out was required for the vote to be valid. Like many other towns in the country Zlín has been taking steps to curb the number of slot machines and gambling houses in the city.
The quality of air in the industrial regions of Moravia and Silesia is reported to have improved significantly in the past 24 hours, prompting the authorities to call off a high smog alert. The amount of industrial dust and exhaust fumes in the air is now within set limits at most monitoring stations and weather conditions should help improve the situation further. Air pollution is a serious problem in the eastern part of the country aggravated by the fact that many inhabitants in the region use coal for heating.
Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová was beaten 4:6, 4:6 by two-time champion Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open on Saturday. The 25th seed, who started the season well, winning seven games out of ten, said she was disappointed by the result since she had missed a number of opportunities to turn the game around. Azarenka will now play last year’s finalist Dominika Cibulkova for a place in the quarter-finals.
Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, a former communist prosecutor who participated in the 1950s show trial against politician Milada Horáková has died at the age of 93, the ctk news agency reports. News of her demise, which is said to have occurred on January 15, was released only after her funeral at her family’s request. In 2007 Brožová-Polednová was found guilty of assisting in the judicial murder of Milada Horakova and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. This sentence was overturned, but the following year she faced another trial in which she was also found guilty and sentenced to six years. After a series of unsuccessful appeals, Brožová-Polednová became the Czech Republic's oldest prisoner when in March 2009 when she was incarcerated at a special geriatric facility at the Světlá nad Sázavou Prison in central Bohemia. She was pardoned a year later by then President Vaclav Klaus and has lived in seclusion since.
The Czech rail state company has signalled it is pressing ahead with a project to construct the biggest railway tunnel in the Czech Republic by christening a new tunnel-boring machine on Friday. The Ejpovice tunnel on the line from Rokycany to Pilsen, consisting of two 4.5 km single-track tunnels, will shorten the original 20 kilometre stretch of line by more than six kilometres and will halve the running time taken by trains. Construction work is scheduled to be completed by 2017.
The Czech Republic risks losing out on 5.5 million litres of oil from its strategic reserve which it claims was stored in Germany. The insolvency administrator for Viktoriagruppe, a German company managing Czech oil reserves, has denied that the oil held at their German facility belongs to the Czech Republic. News of that rebuff was passed on by the chairman of the Administration of State Material Reserves, Pavel Švagr, on Friday. The state fuel reserve company ČEPRO has already transferred some of the reserves from Viktoriagruppe’s storage sites in the Czech Republic into facilities under its direct control.
The human rights NGO, the Czech Helsinki Committee, wants to file a complaint with international children rights organisations over the steps taken by the Norwegian authorities in the case of two Czech children who were taken from their parent’s care and each was placed with different foster parents. The Norwegian authorities took the step on suspicion the children were being sexually abused, although the case was later dropped by the police. The Czech Helsinki Committee argues that the decisions made were in violation of the children’s basic rights.